On TV: Labor Pains
Lindsay Lohan has been cast as an innocent high student navigating the cruel world of cliques, a wholesome campmate and the luckiest teen in Manhattan. There is not a casting director who would make those same decisions today. With the constant drama in her personal life, Lohan has been cornered into more promiscuous, troubled, and long-lost identical twin stripper roles. In Lara Shapiro's Labor Pains, Lohan plays a young woman burdened by the stresses of a fledgling career, strained family relationships and impending adulthood, a decent fit even though it won't revitalize Lohan's career.
Much speculation has been made about Lohan's falling star, especially after ABC Family acquired Labor Pains. Don't let parent company Disney's involvement fool you: This is not A Cinderella Story or High School Musical. Instead of a cheery, pink-cheeked hero a few tightly choreographed dance numbers away from total happiness, we get Thea Dixon (Lindsay Lohan, raspier than ever), a lowly publishing company secretary who rides the bus -- in Los Angeles! (Her life must really be terrible.) She hates her job and her broadly condescending boss (Chris Parnell) but needs the income because she is saddled with her sarcastic high school-aged sister (Bridgit Mendler). After Thea makes a few workplace mistakes, she resorts to a strategy many people use to save a failing relationship: She tells her boss that she is pregnant to salvage her job.
Now that Thea is ostensibly in her second term, she has to act the part. Luckily, her friend Lisa (Cheryl Hines) is available to steal a bump off of a maternity store mannequin and advise a stick-thin Lohan on walking the waddle. It is refreshing to see a woman, rather than a flamboyantly gay man (or a troupe of flamboyantly gay men), playing the role of the supporting friend who dishes out makeovers. Jay Thomas, Willie Garson and Janeane Garafalo round out the cast but don't get many opportunities for laughs, what with Thea's burgeoning belly, publishing career and convenient interoffice romance (with Luke Kirby).
For all of the ridiculousness of the plot, cinematographer Dan Stoloff realistically simulates Thea's threadbare life -- from dumpy apartment to dingy offices to dank bar -- without ever seeming exaggerated. Labor Pains was filmed in and around Burbank but it has the sensibility of the valley's sun-drenched sadness. While some of the locations may have been chosen of necessity (particularly budget and paparrazi concerns), this film still feels very private.
And while every director would love to see his or her work on the big screen, the intimacy and easygoing pace of Labor Pains works just as well in the living room. At this point in Lindsay Lohan's career, more people would watch TMZ coverage of a real life Lohan pregnancy scare than one of her movies, but let's face it: The paparazzi footage wouldn't be nearly as artful.